Tag Archives: BBC One

BBC Trust launches ‘its largest’ TV service review – into BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four

The BBC Trust today launched ‘the largest and most significant service review’  of television that is has ever undertaken, and seeks views on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four. A 12 week public consultation is now underway.

“This forms part of the Trust’s regular series of reviews and will be the largest and most significant service review the Trust has undertaken. BBC One and BBC Two are the two most popular services that the BBC operates. It will be the first time that the Trust has looked at these services,” said Diane Coyle, BBC Trustee, who is leading the review.

The review will look at all content on the channels including news and nations and regions output, the Trust outlined. The BBC News Channel and BBC Parliament will be examined in the future.

The public can share their views at this link…

The BBC Trust was yesterday criticised by MPs’ in a select committe report, over the body’s handling of the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

Last week the culture minister, Ben Bradshaw, speaking at last week’s Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, said there could be a case for a ’smaller licence fee’ and also suggested that the BBC Trust model is not ‘sustainable’.

Hacks beat Flacks to knockout in Pall Mall debate

Normally it is very sedate – the Pall Mall world of the Gentlemans’ Clubs. On Monday night it was a bare knuckle fight to the finish as the hacks took on the flacks in a Media Society/CIPR debate at the Foreign Press Association on whether this union was a marriage that would ever work. The Hacks won, for a change, persuading some of the 80 strong audience, mainly PRs, to change their mind between the beginning and the end of the session.

Both sides have been reeling since the runaway success of Nick Davies’ book ‘Flat Earth News’ and its unearthing of acres of ‘churnalism’ – PR disguised as journalism – in the press. The Hacks were ably represented by three Terracotta Tigers: Rosie Millard of the Sunday Times, Roy Greenslade of City University and the Guardian, and Maggie Brown, the distinguished media writer. Up against them Peter Luff MP, once and still a PR man, and Jo Tanner whose PR skills helped elect the Boris Johnson as Mayor of London last year.

The whole match was taking place in a rather significant setting. It was here in January 2004 on the stairs of the Foreign Press Association that Alastair Campbell announced his ‘victory’ over the BBC after his PR ‘triumph’ on the Hutton report.

Sue Macgregor, late of the BBC now of national treasure status, refereed the whole shooting match. Millard played the men from the start accusing Flacks of ‘getting in the way of the truth’ week after week after week in her Sunday Times work. She reserved her especial ire for the PR machine of Buckingham Palace, ‘a venal institution’ whose spinners ‘bamboozled the public’ on Royalty.

Peter Luff, only lightly mired in the recent MPs’ expenses scandal was having no truck with the journalist as saint. “Which journalist ever got the sack for getting it wrong?” he asked. On that current PR Disaster, Jon Stonborough, the former ‘spinner’ for Speaker Michael Martin was in the audience and was called upon to advise him. He was less than warm in his praise and less than generous in a forecast of career longevity for the embattled ‘Gorbals Mick’! [Ed – John submitted this piece this morning, timely given Martin’s announcement today that he will step down]

Hacks and Flacks agreed that they were all ‘truth’ tellers and that there was an inverse relationship between the number of PRs now employed and the number of journalists unemployed. That was not a healthy sign.

Greenslade, the sage of the internet and soi-disant conscience of British journalism, was equally punchy, producing a roll call of journos killed in the last two years.

He then very effectively contrasted this with a blank sheet showing the number of PRs killed in action. The opposition was put firmly on the back foot by this low punch.

Jo Tanner pledged, as they all did, to always tell the truth (however they defined it) and delighted in recalling the story of how she had exposed Baroness Jay as not the product of an ‘ordinary grammar’ as she claimed on television but a prize product of Blackheath Girls School. Good journalism for a PR.

Maggie Brown revealed a trick of her trade – a simple device to get round the PRs who controlled access to celebrities and powerful people in the media and elsewhere. She simply ignored them and went round their backs. She cited the example of Jay Hunt, the controller of BBC One whose PR blocked her access. Maggie simply interviewed her proud Professor father instead!

It was left to a super hack Phil Harding, former Today editor and Controller of BBC editorial policy to point out the idea of a marriage between the two was a pure chimera: “We do different jobs.” We do and did. Not a marriage more a friendship of distrust.

After their defeat – smiling as always – it was simply left to the Flacks to buy the drinks for the Hacks…

Royal Television Society journalism award winners in full

As Tony Burman predicted, the ‘news channel of the year’ award at last night’s Royal Television Society awards didn’t go to Al Jazeera. Instead, it went to the BBC – who did rather well on the night in several categories. Here’s the full list, with the judges’ comments:

Young Journalist of the year: Hannah Thomas-Peter – Sky News
“A combination of fantastic access and great insight has enabled our winner to help transform health coverage on Sky News.”
Nominees: Joe Crowley – Inside Out BBC South / Kate Taunton – Channel 4 News ITN for Channel 4 News

Nations and Regions Current Affairs: The Story of Michael Barnett – Inside Out BBC Yorkshire
“A powerful programme with a sure touch…with the confidence to let the story tell itself.”
Nominees: A Friend in Need – Focus ITV Meridian / Meat Hygiene – Week In Week Out Special BBC Wales

Nations and Regions News Coverage: Weston Pier Fire – The West Tonight ITV West for ITV1
“… comprehensive, engaging and professionally presented.  It had outstanding pictures and a real sense of an event which affected the whole community.”
Nominees: Boris’s Deputy – Ray Lewis Investigation BBC London News / The Darwin Trial North East Tonight for ITV1

Scoop of the Year: HBOS/Lloyds TSB Merger BBC News Channel
“… indeed ‘an extraordinary exclusive’ which heralded the extraordinary changes in the British banking system.”
Nominees: China – The Moment the Earth Shook ITV News / Canoe Man – Gerard Tubb Sky News

Presenter of the Year: Jon Snow – Channel 4 News ITN for Channel 4 News
“…yet another superb year, whether it was in the studio – interrogating politicians and bankers – or out in the field – from the Middle East to the United States. One jury member said ‘he’s just brilliant. There’s nothing more to say.'”
Nominees: Kay Burley – Sky News Sky News / Andrew Neil – BBC News

News Coverage – Home: The British Banking Crisis BBC News
“The winning entry started with a scoop of the first order and followed it with reportage and explanation of the highest quality. It was without doubt the story of the year and showed BBC News at its very best.”
Nominees: Ipswich – Guilty ITV News / Heathrow Crash BBC News

News Coverage – International:
Congo Crisis ITN for Channel 4 News
“Top class coverage of a consistently high standard… It was totally comprehensive, enterprising and managed brilliantly to use small individual stories to explain the bigger picture.”
Nominees: China – The Earthquake ITV News / Conflict in the Caucasus – Newsnight BBC Newsnight for BBC Two

News Channel of the Year: BBC News Channel
“The winning news channeldelivered a fantastic series of scoops on the story of the year. It was a channel you had to watch to keep abreast of the breaking economic news.”
Nominees: Al Jazeera English News Al Jazeera English News / Sky News Sky News

Current Affairs – Home: Primark: On the Rack – Panorama BBC for BBC One
“… not only an engaging watch but… thorough and also went the extra mile to lay bare the whole chain from refugee camp to the High Street rail.”
Nominees: Omagh: What The Police Were Never Told – Panorama BBC for BBC One / The Secret Peacemaker BBC for BBC Two

Current Affairs – International: Undercover in Tibet – Dispatches True Vision for Channel 4 Television
“…a truly great current affairs film that sheds light on the future. Filmed just months before Tibet erupted into rioting, this extraordinarily brave programme, made at great personal risk and with much hardship, illuminated the tensions and troubles of the country, with powerful testimony and pictures.”
Nominees: Britain’s Most Wanted – This World Mentorn Media for BBC for BBC Two / Iraq’s Lost Generation – Dispatches Hardcash for Channel 4 Television

Innovative News
: 10 Days to War – Newsnight BBC Newsnight for BBC Two
“The winning series harnessed everything from drama documentary to a special website to re-examine events leading to the Iraq war in 2003. The jury saw this as a brave and successful venture to capture a new and younger audience.”
Nominees: Unplugged Sky News / On The Frontline – Afghan Headcams ITV News

Specialist Journalist of the Year: Robert Peston – BBC News
“One journalist dominated this year’s specialist category.  [He] owned the story of the Credit Crunch and its impact on the whole economy.”
Nominees: Faisal Islam – Channel 4 News/ Channel 4 News at Noon ITN for Channel 4 News / Jason Farrell – Five News Sky News for Five News

News Programme of the Year: BBC News at Ten BBC News for BBC One
“In a vintage year for news output, this programme shone through. The jury felt it had led the way on a wide range of major stories and the experience and quality of its leading correspondents had simply been unmatched anywhere else. It had triumphed on the big story of the year but had supported that with first-class reporting throughout.”
Nominees: Five News with Natasha Kaplinsky Sky News for Five News / News at Ten ITV News

Camera Operator of the Year: Garwen McLuckie – Sky News Sky News
“The winner’s work in Africa was fearless and showed a remarkable empathy for the problems faced by people across the continent. His story-telling was impressive and his work demonstrated immense personal bravery and the highest technical skills.”
Nominees: Raul Gallego Abellan – Associated Press Television News Associated Press Television News / Stuart Webb – Channel 4 News ITN for Channel 4 News

Television Journalist of the Year
: Robert Peston – BBC News
“The winning correspondent produced probably the most sustained run of scoops and exclusives in the history of broadcast news in the UK… It would not be an exaggeration to say that a large part of the nation hung on the winner’s words every night – he personally revived appointment-to-view.”
Nominees: Martin Geissler – Africa Correspondent ITV News / Emma Hurd – Sky News Sky News

Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Wilkinson
“This year’s winner is, for the first time, a cameraman.  He is not a household name – but you will all recognise his work. Many of the defining moments of our era have been captured through his lens, and he is one of the true pioneers of his trade.”

Judges Awards: Zimbabwe News Teams

“[This year’s Judges’ Award] recognises and salutes the work of a disparate collection of journalists, cameramen, producers and others who work under the radar, who have helped the outside world to report and understand a major international story that would otherwise have remained largely hidden from view.”

Gold Medal: Stewart Purvis
“[The Gold Medal goes] to someone whose name may not be widely known by the public but who has influenced, directly or indirectly, virtually everything we’ve seen on screen tonight. He is, without doubt, one of the makers of modern television news.

Undercover Soldier: why didn’t the Beeb open up the debate online?

It’s a story that has seen a hive of online activity: the BBC puts a new reporter in the army for six months (he’s never worked in the media before); puts out a documentary, based on mainly anecdotal evidence; the army suspends five people (not clear how many were a result, if any, of the investigation); the mainstream media reports on the whole thing (Telegraph report linked here, as an example).

A Facebook group has been created criticising the reporter for the programme – suggesting he should be tried for treason – which at the time of writing has 1,460 members.

Yet nowhere on the BBC website is there anywhere to post a comment. Although BBC news stories don’t always allow comments, this could have been ideal discussion material for a blog. But because there wasn’t any we’ve seen a flurry of activity on our own site, from users who probably wouldn’t normally use a journalism news site. Likewise, Digital Spy had a fair number of comments. The other place with high level of comment is an unofficial Army forum, Arrse (British Army Rumour Service).

People reacted to the question I asked on Friday ‘why the low ratings?’ with a range of suggestions.

Most, if not all, the commenters disagree that the footage was ‘shocking’ or ‘remarkable’. I agree with those that think the documentary had flaws in its method and reportage, but stand by my original comments. Whether it needed this type of ‘undercover documentary’ to give exposure to racism and bullying in the army (anecdotal evidence, or otherwise) is another matter (that was the discussion I was expecting to be provoked).

Bizarrely, if you currently search for ‘Russell Sharp’ on Google you’ll come to our own website, rather than the BBC’s. While we welcome the additional comment and discussion on our own site, would this not have been better placed on bbc.co.uk?

I emailed the BBC Press Office a number of questions about their online management. Initially I was told that there had been an opportunity for feedback in the phone-in on Radio 5 Live, immediately after transmission. I know, I tried to listen. Russell Sharp was supposed to be on it, but was replaced at the last minute – the explanation on air was that he was (or had been?) ‘holed up’ in an edit suite.

I’m posting here the full response from a spokesperson at the BBC in regards to the response to the programme.

I asked why the BBC decided not to open up comments to the public:
They said: “It’s good to see our journalism promoting debate and discussion. We don’t always provide an opportunity for people to comment on every story posted on the news website – decisions are taken on a case by case basis. In this case there was also a phone in discussion on 5Live which examined the issues raised and heard from people with an interest in the story.”

I asked if they were disappointed in the low ratings.
They said: “The broadcast of Undercover Soldier last week is absolutely in keeping with BBC One’s commitment to placing agenda setting investigative journalism at the heart of the peak time schedule. We are proud to have ensured the maximum number of viewers had the opportunity to see it.  An audience of 2.3 million viewers alongside the  media exposure it brought to the issue of bullying in the army is an illustration of public service broadcasting at its best.”

I asked them what they thought about this story that appeared in the Sun, which suggested Sharp could be called back into the army.
They said: “The Sun approached us for a response to their story on Friday but sadly didn’t see fit to include it in their piece. It was as follows…..
‘We would never comment on a hypothetical situation but the MoD will no doubt want to focus on the issues raised by the programme rather than the individual who helped raise them. We are cooperating with the Army in their investigations’.”

The discussion continues, as does our blog traffic. When I posted on Thursday I expected a few reactions from journalists criticising the reportage of the documentary, to explain its low ratings, or a comment on the interests of the viewing public.

Instead, it became apparent that there has been very little outlet for the viewers of the programme to voice their concerns with the BBC’s methodology and subsequent reporting.